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India Committee of the Netherlands, Stop Child Labour and Kerk in Actie, August 2017

The
Dark Sites
of Granite
- Abstract -

See full report here }

Modern slavery, child labour and unsafe work


in Indian granite quarries
What should companies do?
Introduction
India is a top producer and exporter of granite, widely who do the manual work, lack those fundamental
used for wall and floor tiles, tomb stones and kitchen labour rights.
tops in western countries. Western governments The research shows that granite sourced from the
are an important end-buyer of granite for buildings, investigated quarries are imported by 33 natural stone
pavements, public squares etc. Half of the total world companies and 3 banks, such as Daltile Corporation,
exports of raw granite originates from India. But this M S International and World Rocks in the USA, Blyth
decorative and highly valued natural stone comes Marble, Grantech, KSG UK, mistermarble and Nile
with a high price, mainly paid by the workers in South Trading in the United Kingdom, Worldwide Stone in
Indian granite quarries. Canada and Edwards Slate & Stone in Australia.
New research, commissioned by the India Committee Few companies are member of sustainability initia-
of the Netherlands and Stop Child Labour, reveals that tives that aim to improve working conditions in the
modern slavery, low wages and unsafe and unhealthy natural stone sector, though these initiatives still
working conditions are rampant in granite quarries hardly tackle the deplorable working conditions in
in South India. In some quarries child labour is found. quarries. Therefore, both these initiatives and all
There is also an enormous difference in working con- companies sourcing or trading granite from South
ditions between permanent workers (mainly those in India should start acting to systematically eradicate
supervising positions) and casual workers. The first these violations, by increasing transparency in granite
group receives safety equipment, insurances and supply chains, conduct risk assessments and imple-
employment contracts, while casual labourers, ment improvement plans.

THE DARK SITES OF GRANITE What should companies do?


The research
The research was conducted in 22 quarries and six Importing companies mentioned by name in the report
waste stone processing sites in the states of Andhra are not the only companies sourcing granite from the
Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka in South India. researched quarries, but they are the ones that could be
These three states account for 75% of the granite identified as buyers through the analysis of export data
production in India. Almost half of the sampled quar- (except for Arte, who gave insight in their supply chain).
ries have direct linkages with foreign importers. Other Addressing labour rights violations that are described
quarries also produce granite for export markets, but in the report is not the sole responsibility of the buying
this is traded through intermediaries. Major importers companies named in the report, but of all companies
of Indian granite are China, the USA and European sourcing and trading granite that originates from South
countries, with Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom India, including end-users in the funeral, retail and
as biggest buyers. As China is found to be a major pro- building and construction sectors.
cessor and re-exporter of Indian granite, this granite
is likely to enter the international market via China as Poor working conditions and rights
well. Despite the conservative and non-transparent violations
nature of the natural stone sector, 33 natural stone Granite quarrying in India is labour-intensive with
companies and 3 banks were identified, having direct a limited level of mechanisation. The work entails
links to 10 of the 22 investigated quarries. All compa- stone harvesting with drills and explosives, block
nies and banks were requested to react to a draft ver- splitting, lifting and transportation. To measure the
sion of the report. Only five companies (Arte, Beltrami, performance of quarries on decent work the quarries
Jetstone, Kerasom and Michel Oprey & Beisterveld are ranked on six decent work criteria: child labour,
(MO&B)) and one bank (The Royal Bank of Scotland) bonded labour, wages and benefits, safety manage-
did so. ment, health management and freedom of association.
To protect interviewed workers from reprisal, the None of the 22 quarries is fulfilling all those criteria.
names of 22 researched quarries are anonymised and
quarries have been given a number.
Workers loading waste stone in a truck

THE DARK SITES OF GRANITE What should companies do? 2


The performance on decent work criteria of quarries whose buyers were identified

rights respected rights seriously violated

quarry 3 | buyers: Antolini Luigi (ITA), Edwards Slate & Stone (AUS)

instances of child prevalence of debt legal minimum 1 basic safety no health no active labour
labour, no age veri- bondage through wages paid, over- equipment insurance for union, few
fication and no pre- huge recurring time not paid at the provided to casual workers; workers member
vention and rehabil- advances with high legal rate, no pen- workers but not no safe drinking of labour union
itation system interest rates sion scheme and used water provided
no paid holidays

quarry 8 | buyers: Arte (NLD), Daltile Corporation (USA)

no child labour, but debt bondage legal minimum 1 basic safety no health no active labour
no age verification unlikely but wage wages and over- equipment insurance for union, few
system and no pre- advances paid time paid, no pen- provided to casual workers; workers member
vention and rehabil- sion scheme and casual workers safe drinking of labour union
itation system no paid holidays water provided

quarry 15 | buyer: KSG UK (GBR)

no child labour, age debt bondage legal minimum 2 basic safety no health no active labour
verification system unlikely but wage wages and over- equipment insurance for union, workers
but no prevention advances paid time paid, no pen- provided to casual workers; member of labour
and rehabilitation sion scheme and casual workers safe drinking union
system no paid holidays water provided

quarry 16 | buyers: Deisl Stein (AUT), M S International (USA), mistermarble (GBR)

no child labour, age risk on debt legal minimum wages 1 basic safety no health no active labour
verification system bondage due paid, overtime not paid equipment insurance for union, workers
but no prevention to high wage at the legal rate, no provided to casual workers; member of labour
and rehabilitation advances pension scheme and casual workers safe drinking union
system no paid holidays water provided

quarry 17 | buyers: M S International (USA), Nile Trading (GBR)

no child labour, age risk on debt legal minimum 1 basic safety no health no active labour
verification system bondage due to wages paid, but equipment insurance for union, few
but no prevention high wage overtime not as per provided to casual workers; workers member
and rehabilitation advances the law casual workers safe drinking of labour union
system water provided

THE DARK SITES OF GRANITE What should companies do? 3


quarry 18 | buyer: Beltrami UK (GBR)

no child labour, age risk on debt bondage legal minimum 1 basic safety no health no active labour
verification system through high wage wages and over- equipment insurance for union, workers
but no prevention advances time paid, no pen- provided to casual casual workers; member of labour
and rehabilitation sion scheme and workers safe drinking union
system no paid holidays water provided

quarry 19 | buyers: Allied Irish Banks (IRL), Grantech (GBR), HABU Granit-Marmor (DEU), HSBC Bank (GBR),
Jetstone (NLD), Just Naturstein (DEU), M. Lampe Natursteine (DEU), M S International (USA), Magna Naturstein/
Magna Westfalia (DEU), Michel Oprey & Beisterveld (NLD), Naturstein Risse (DEU), Royal Bank of Scotland (GBR)

instances of child prevalence of debt legal minimum 1 basic safety no health no active labour
labour, no age veri- bondage through wages and over- equipment insurance for union, workers
fication and no pre- recurring wage time paid, pension provided to casual casual workers; member of labour
vention and rehabil- advances scheme in place, workers no safe drinking union
itation system no paid holidays water provided

quarry 20 | buyers: Beltrami (BEL), Blyth Marble (GBR), Cereser Marmi (ITA), Cosentino (ESP), Dalle Nogare
(ITA), General Stone Trading (LIE), Levantina (ESP), M S International (USA), Marmi Bruno Zanet (ITA), Tiger
Stone (ITA), World Rocks (USA), Worldwide Stone (CAN)

no child labour, age risk on debt legal minimum 1 basic safety no health no active labour
verification system bondage due to wages and over- equipment insurance for union, few
but no prevention high wage time paid, no pen- provided to casual casual workers; workers member
and rehabilitation advances sion scheme and workers safe drinking of labour union
system no paid holidays water provided

quarry 21 | buyers: Deisl Stein (AUT), General Stone Trading (LIE), Hullebusch (BEL), Kerasom (NLD), Magna
Naturstein (DEU), Marimar (ITA), Schulte Naturstein (DEU)

instances of child prevalence of debt legal minimum 1 basic safety no health no active labour
labour, no age veri- bondage through wages and over- equipment insurance for union, workers
fication and no pre- recurring wage time paid, pension provided to casual casual workers; member of labour
vention and rehabil- advances scheme in place, workers no safe drinking union
itation system no paid holidays water provided

quarry 22 | buyers: Arte (NLD), Daltile Corporation (USA)

no child labour, age debt bondage legal minimum 1 basic safety no health no active labour
verification system unlikely but wage wages and over- equipment insurance for union, workers
but no prevention advances paid time paid, pension provided to casual casual workers; member of labour
and rehabilitation scheme in place, workers safe drinking union
system no paid holidays water provided

THE DARK SITES OF GRANITE What should companies do? 4


Modern slavery
More than 70% of the workforce in granite quarries
are casual labourers employed on a daily wage or
piece rate basis. With wage advances equivalent to a
wage of one to three months, and high interest loans,
the quarry owners have found a method to tie the
workers to the job. Nearly 25% of the workers, mostly Karimnagar

in Telangana and Karnataka, are recruited by providing Telangana


loans, with annual interest rates of 24% to 36%. In
Telangana 42% of the local workers and 58% of the Mudugal
Chimakurthi
migrant workers interviewed reported that they owe
large sums of money varying from INR 10000 (EUR Karnataka Andhra
Pradesh
141.90) to INR 20000 (EUR 283.80) to quarry owners
or contractors. Substantial advances create debt
bondage, as workers must clear the owed amount
before they can change to another employer. In nine
quarries debt bondage is prevalent. Debt bondage is a
form of modern slavery.

Casual labour
Middlemen are recruiting workers but offer them no
contract. They themselves settle labour issues like Provident Fund (EPF), a retirement scheme, to which
wages, working hours, allowances, housing and food. both employer and employee contribute. But the inter-
Except for management and supervisory staff directly viewed workers reported that only directly employed
hired by the quarry owners, most workers are hired by workers are receiving these benefits. None of the
these agents who often do not respect legal require- workers hired through middlemen have access to
ments. This has resulted in a large gap between the EPF (or are not aware of it), nor are they covered
directly and indirectly hired workers, with only the first under health insurance, while these workers are most
group benefitting from for example medical insurance exposed to health risks. In two quarries (quarry 1 and
and pension services. 22) workers receive a small amount for their medical
expenses. About 80% of the workers never received
Migrant workers and Dalits any form of medical benefits.
Casual labourers are mostly migrant workers. 75% of
the migrant workers migrate from other states like Occupational health and safety
Odisha, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, leaving behind Granite quarrying is hazardous in nature, as even a
their families. Migrants constitute 70% of the total minor mistake can be fatal to workers. Quarry workers
workforce in granite quarries in Andhra Pradesh and face many occupational hazards as they work with
Telangana. Migrant workers are preferred over local explosives, heavy wheel and trackless transport vehi-
workers as they are likely to be more obedient, work cles and wire saws. Many workers get injured due to
longer hours and are more flexible as they often have large moving stones, the accidental fall of stones and
fewer social or family commitments. Migrants do not materials as well as the breakage of metal cables of
switch employers frequently and are less likely to wire saws. In 2010, an accident in one quarry took the
strike. Workers, including migrants, are mostly coming lives of 12 workers, but many deadly accidents remain
from so-called lowest caste of Dalits (officially called unreported.
Scheduled Castes) or Adivasi (officially called Sched- Quarry workers are furthermore exposed to noise
uled Tribes). They are extra vulnerable due to their low and dust, making them vulnerable to work-related
social status in Indian society. illnesses, like the incurable lung disease silicosis
which is highly prevalent among stone quarry workers.
Social benefits Workers were often seen without any safety equip-
All workers, temporary and permanent, are legally ment, when cutting, shaping or drilling stone. The sit-
entitled to health insurance and the Employees uation is slightly better in the bigger quarries (quarry

THE DARK SITES OF GRANITE What should companies do? 5


Migrant workers sleeping in their accomodation

4, 8, 15, 18, 19, 20, 22) although it was observed Wages and overtime
that the use of safety equipment is largely confined In five quarries minimum wages, that would help
to permanent workers, who are mainly involved in people to pay for education, medical care and other
supervising quarry activities. In none of the quarries basic needs, are not paid. When taking the number
visited, workers involved in drilling operations were of working hours into consideration, the wages in
seen wearing any respirator, ear and/or eye protection. half of the researched quarries (incl. quarry 3, 5,
Nearly 62% of the workers interviewed reported that 14, 16 and 17) do not meet the legal requirements.
they are not provided any safety equipment such as Overtime is sometimes paid by providing snacks and
a helmet, goggles, boots, respirator/mask and gloves, alcoholic drinks. Daily wages are fixed, depending
except during labour department inspections. on work classification, between INR 250 (EUR 3.55)
to INR 436 (EUR 6.19) a day. Wages in waste stone
Child labour processing are even lower, varying between INR 150
Child labour (below 18 years) used to be rampant (EUR 2.12) and INR 250 (EUR 3.53) a day. Around
in granite quarries in the early 2000s, but declined 60% of the workers reported that they spend a sub-
because of interventions by the government, industry stantial amount of their monthly earnings on med-
and civil society organisations. However, the research ical expenses. Because of low wages workers often
revealed instances of child labour in main quarry oper- take loans in case of large expenses for example for
ations in seven of the sample quarries. None of the health care or burials.
investigated sites have a prevention and rehabilitation
system for child labour in place. Living conditions
Housing provided for the workers is grossly inad-
Granite waste stone is processed into cobble stones or equate. Workers share small common rooms, with
are pounded into granite gravel. Waste stone is mostly little ventilation, water and sanitation facilities and
used on the domestic market for paving roads and no privacy. Half of the sample quarries lack clean
constructing buildings, but also exported to western drinking water. Toilet facilities were only observed in
countries. Nearly 80% of waste stone processing is four big quarries.
done by women and children. Children below 14 years
account for nearly 3% of the waste stone processing Workers organisation
workforce and 5% of this workforce is between 15 and In none of the researched quarries an active labour
18 years old. union is present.

THE DARK SITES OF GRANITE What should companies do? 6


Relative frontrunner companies and sustainability initiatives

Five of the 33 identified buying companies are There seems to be a correlation between buyers with
member of the TFT-Responsible Stone Program and a more active Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
IGEP. These initiatives support companies by devel- policy and labour conditions at their supplying quar-
oping a code of conduct, forms of certification/ver- ries; importers with an active CSR policy are buying
ification and/or implementing improvement plans. from relatively better performing quarries.
The initiatives differ in terms of transparency and The companies that reacted to the request to review
thoroughness. Generally, the sustainability initiatives a draft version of the report, including the Dutch
provide little information about members, their efforts importers Arte, Jetstone, Kerasom and MO&B as well
and results. as the Belgian Beltrami, recognise their responsibility
Arte, Beltrami, Cosentino and MO&B are member of and state that a lot needs to be done to achieve
the TFT-Responsible Stone Program. The TFT-Respon- sustainable stones. Beltrami and Arte have already
sible Stone Program is the only initiative that makes made concrete efforts to address labour violations
it possible to compare individual member companies in their supply chains, while others promised to map
efforts and achievements. Spanish importer Cosentino their supply chains and/or urged their Indian suppliers
is a member of the UN Global Compact, though with to take actions for improvement. The Royal Bank of
a formal non-reporting status. The German company Scotland, the only bank that responded, says it has
Just Naturstein is a member of IGEP, the least trans- started enquiries into their quarries.
parent initiative. The American importer Daltile Corpo-
ration is not a member of any initiative but publishes
a code of conduct on its website. Like in the case of
the sustainability initiatives, there are substantial
differences between companies with regard to the
thoroughness and transparency of the interventions
and the results.

THE DARK SITES OF GRANITE What should companies do? 7


Recommendations
Besides importing companies, also governments,
including municipalities and state governments as
well as companies at the buying end of the granite
supply chain - e.g. retail companies - have a responsi-
bility to address human rights violations. The United
Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human
Rights (UNGP) and OECD Guidelines for Multinational
Enterprises provide the relevant frameworks for this.
These principles clarify the duty of states to protect
as well as the responsibility of businesses to respect
human rights, while both have to provide remedies to
victims of violations. The first step for improvement in
this sector is for all actors involved to start acting in
line with these guidelines.

For companies and sustainability initiatives


Implement a comprehensive human rights due
diligence process as required by the UN and OECD,
in collaboration with workers, unions and NGOs;
Increase traceability and transparency of the supply
chains up-to the level of quarries;
Furthermore, all companies involved should imple-
ment Indian labour laws, respect trade union rights
and provide each worker with a written employment
contract and safety equipment.

For Indian Central Government and State


Governments
Enforce existing labour laws and welfare schemes
and monitor their implementation.

For the European Union, its member states and other


importing governments
Strengthen and implement sustainable procurement
policies and publicly report about its implementation;
Oblige companies to be transparent about their
supply chain and to perform a human rights due
diligence.

See full report The Dark Sites of Granite here }

Colofon
Text: Manon Straaver and ICN
Design: Fridy Visser Knof
Photos: Alamy Stock Photo (page 1, 2, 7), Glocal Research (page 8) and The Hans India (page 6)

THE DARK SITES OF GRANITE What should companies do? 8